Articles Posted in Lawful Permanent Resident

Today, we are going to talk about a new comedy on NBC called “Sunnyside”!  It stars Kal Penn (the tall guy from the Harold and Kumar movies) as Garrett Modi, a down-on-his-luck former city council member who is booted out of office.  Somehow, he is hired by a motley crew of immigrants to be their “citizenship test tutor.”

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Before we go any further, I know that some of you might be wondering about my qualifications to critique a show about immigrants in Sunnyside, Queens.  Well, I have watched “Coming to America” at least twenty times and 90% of that movie happens in Queens.  (Fun factoid:  Not only is Queens the largest of the five boroughs, it is also the most ethnically diverse.)  Also, when I first moved to New York City, I lived in Woodside, which is two stops away on the illustrious 7 line from Sunnyside.  (I lived near the 61st Street stop, which is an express station.  When I first moved in, I thought “This is great!  I will be in Manhattan in ten minutes!”  Then, during my first week of work, I learned that the express train was very full by the time it reached Woodside.  Which then forced me to discover the benefits of the local.  Like how my commute to work would take an extra 30 minutes.) 

ABOUT THAT CITIZENSHIP TEST

kumar-and-weed-300x166I was having lunch with a former client who had flown in and out of LAX the other day.  We were celebrating that after a long journey involving his moving from California to Washington, the government had granted his application for lawful permanent residence.  Knowing that California had legalized the recreational use of marijuana, he mentioned that he was surprised that he didn’t see any “amnesty boxes” at the airport.

As of November 2018, 10 states have legalized the recreational use of marijuana and 33 states allow the use of medical marijuana.  However, federal immigration law has not changed:  marijuana is still a “controlled substance.”  And the consequences can be severe.

Canadians who have admitted to taking a puff in the past or who are involved in the cannabis industry can be turned away at the border and possibly banned from future travel into the United States.  CBP officers have stated:  “Anytime somebody plans on entering the United States to involve themselves in the distribution, proliferation, possession of any form of marijuana, that could lead to them being found inadmissible.”  

fashion-person-woman-hand-300x200Starting October 1, 2017, USCIS has indicated that it would be start requiring in-person interviews for individuals seeking lawful permanent resident status who have been petitioned by their employers.  According to a USCIS spokesperson, there will be additional visa categories that will also require interviews in order to “further improve the detection and prevention of fraud and security risks to the United States.”

In the view of one attorney, “The immigration service [previously] realized that most of the time it was a colossal waste of everyone’s time.”  As a result, USCIS had agreed to waive many of these interviews.  Such waivers will no longer be granted.

Based upon an anecdotal, informal survey of Fong & Aquino clients, a marriage-based “green card” case in the Los Angeles area can be expected to be completed within 6-8 months of filing. Tasking the same number of USCIS interviewing officers to now conduct additional interviews on top of the existing caseload is a sure recipe for longer adjudications.

waiting-300x207Clients at Fong & Aquino offices at both our Pasadena and Palm Springs offices have been asking whether the Trump administration has done anything to change the Priority Date system that creates the sometimes very long wait times before visas can be processed — for immediate relatives, C-visa holders, or priority system immigrants.  The short answer is “the Trump administration has made no changes so far.”

So: if you petition your relatives, how long will you have to wait before your relatives come to the USA?

Strangely enough, this is one of the MOST DIFFICULT things to ask an immigration lawyer.  The movement of dates for the Visa Bulletin is vastly and famously difficult to predict. That is because (a) the number of visas available, (b) the number of visa permitted to each country of the world,  (c) the number of visas taken up by each petition, and (d) the time of year make guessing a very dicey business.

transgender.gif There has been a great deal of recent internet discussion about Bruce Jenner’s transition to a new identity as Caitlyn. I want to congratulate Caitlyn Jenner and address some questions about transgender people and immigration. There has been a small flood of calls today at both the Pasadena and Palm Springs offices of the immigration law offices of Fong & Aquino, in response to the Vanity Fair cover photo and article introducing Caitlyn.

In the bad old days, before Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) was struck down as unconstitutional by the Supreme Court of the United States in the 2013 landmark case of US v Windsor, same-sex marriages were not recognized under Federal law. If two men wanted to marry — even if their marriage could be legally performed in, say, Canada or Massachusetts — the US government refused to recognize that marriage, and no Federal benefits would attach to that relationship. This included a US citizen wanting to obtain legal resident status (the so-called “green card”) for a foreign spouse. A same-sex couple was not recognized, and no green card was possible.

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Republican Immigration Reform and a Giant Hershey Bar

What do Republicans have planned with regard to immigration reform?

Last week, Congressional Republicans held a bicameral retreat to discuss their plans for advancing their priorities, now that the party controls both the House of Representatives and the Senate. At the end of the retreat, there was no unified front on immigration.

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U.S. Supreme Court Building

Are there limits to the government’s powers in expulsion of non-citizens and controlling its borders?

The United States Supreme Court recently decided to consider appeals regarding two very different immigration scenarios. One involves a judge’s order of deportation issued inside the United States; the other involves a decision made by a U.S. consulate in a foreign country. However, both cases have a common thread: what is the permissible extent of the government’s powers?
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Naturalization of permanent residents

Cities for Citizenship launches in major metro cities

Los Angeles, New York City, and Chicago

Occasionally, USCIS will hold group naturalization ceremonies specifically for children. One such ceremony occurred recently at the Los Angeles Public Library. These are really cool events and they are much more exciting than sitting in the waiting room at the federal building for an immigration officer to call your name and bring you the completed certificate.
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Meet Federico GuinartMeet Federico Guinart

A little while ago, I was having a chat with a friend of mine about my law practice. She asked me about the kinds of cases that I handle and the types of people who might be interested in speaking with me. Towards the end of our chat, she says “Great! I’ll be on the look out for clients for you. What does an immigrant look like?”
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Many Roads Lead To Immigration Court

Overview of Removal Proceedings

How do individuals find themselves in removal proceedings?

This week’s blog will kick off a series of posts aimed at providing a broad overview of removal proceedings. Removal proceedings, formerly known as deportation proceedings, are the process by which the Department of Homeland Security (or “DHS”) seeks to deport individuals that it deems do not have authorization to be in the United States. Except under certain situations Continue reading